Ann Talistu (Tallinn University, Estonia) “Kawaii-Aesthetics as an Identity Among the Youth Based on Japanese Street Fashion”


Kawaii has become one of the keywords describing Japanese popular culture. Kawaii-aesthetics is known for its cuteness that covers a wide range of features like round lines, cheerful colours, a specific kind of voice and behaviour. An aesthetic similar to kawaii was already known in the Heian period (794-1185), but the 1970s mark the beginning of the modern kawaii-aesthetics, which grew more popular during the 1980s and 1990s, eventually spreading across the world in the 2000s.

The purpose of this study is to analyze how kawaii-aesthetics has changed into various substyles and to examine whether kawaii-aesthetics can be seen as empowering or submissive, based on fashion magazines and the consumer snapshots displayed in them. This will also enable to see how the youth interested in street fashion constructs its identity through consumption.